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Study says San Antonio is the country’s top BBQ city. And Dallas? Not even in the top 10.

Pecan wood, the fuel to their success, sits outside Meshack's Bar-B-Que Shack in Garland. Meshack's has gained notoriety in many barbecue circles as one of the top spots in Dallas County.    (Irwin Thompson/Dallas Morning News/TNS)
By Claire Ballor The Dallas Morning News

DALLAS — A new study that ranked the country’s top cities for barbecue unsurprisingly concluded that Texas is the best barbecue state.

What is surprising, though, is that Dallas came in at No. 12 on the list, falling behind San Jose, Calif. and Jacksonville, Fla. San Antonio came in first with Austin in second, and Houston landed behind Dallas at number 18.

The ranking, conducted by Clever, was calculated by looking at 50 cities and weighing measurements like the number of barbecue restaurants per capita and the distance between them, average Yelp ratings of barbecue restaurants, Google trend scores for barbecue terms, and the number of major barbecue events scheduled in 2022 and 2023.

The study also took into account the number of Kansas City Barbeque Society Master Series BBQ competitions hosted in the last 10 years, whether a state resident has been inducted into the American Royal Barbecue Hall of Fame, and the regional price per pound of barbecue meat.

Based on those factors, San Antonio topped the list. San Antonio and Austin have 4.2 and 4.7 barbecue restaurants per 100,000 residents, respectively, while Dallas has just 1.1. San Antonio also has a barbecue restaurant every 4.6 miles — better than the average of the cities analyzed in the study, which was one every 5.4 miles.

The study also found that Dallas does have affordability going for it. Buying 4 pounds of barbecue meat (which the study considers pork, beef and poultry) each month for a year costs Dallas residents 0.31% of the area’s median annual income — cheaper than the typical 0.35% in the other cities that were reviewed. “Affordable barbecue” is one of the most Googled barbecue terms in Dallas, according to the study.

Dallas did redeem itself in a separate breakout of the top brisket cities (calculated solely by online search activity, it seems) where it came in second behind San Antonio. Houston came in third and Austin fourth.

Here is the ranking of the top 15 barbecue cities, according to Clever:

1. San Antonio, TX

2. Austin, TX

3. San Jose, CA

4. Nashville, TN

5. Las Vegas, NV

6. Birmingham, AL

7. Tampa, FL

8. Oklahoma City, OK

9. Jacksonville, FL

10. Kansas City, MO

11. Memphis, TN

12. Dallas, TX

13. Orlando, FL

14. Raleigh, NC

15. Richmond, VA